NJ Spark
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NJ Spark

Funding Education: Cancel Student Loans or Free Higher Education for all

The COVID-19 pandemic has placed many citizens in a copious amount of debt, from the result of millions losing their jobs. To offset struggling Americans, Joe Biden has put a halt on student loan debt, and so far, no one must make payments, that is until August 2022. Right wing politicians have pushed Biden to order complete debt cancellation.

While this decision is still in the works, let’s take a deeper look into Biden’s education plan, and explore the pros and cons of the opportunities available. Here are some of the proposals a part of the education plan:

· Providing two years of debt-free community college. Biden also wants to create a new financial aid program to help improve success among community college students and invest $8 billion in community college facilities and technology.

· Expanding the Pell Grant program. The president plans to double the maximum value of Pell Grants and automatically increase the value based on inflation. He also wants to relax eligibility requirements to include more middle class students, DREAMers and formerly incarcerated Americans.

· Making HBCUs more affordable. The president wants to invest $18 billion in grants to HBCUs and Tribal Colleges and Universities (TCUs) to make education more affordable for these students. He said this is equivalent to about two years of tuition costs per low-income student with financial need.

· Offering free tuition at four-year colleges. Biden adopted Sen. Bernie Sanders’ proposal to make public colleges and universities tuition-free for families with incomes below $125,000. He estimates that this would help about 8 in 10 families finance college expenses.

What are the pros of free college education?

Free education will heavily impact a higher percentage of marginalized groups here in the US. There is a disproportionate number of minorities, a group of marginalized people are less likely to receive a better quality of education due to a various amount of environmental and systemic factors that have harmed this group of citizens for years.

If college education is free than the quality of education will increase and students in low-income areas will become more educated. With more educated individuals this leads to my next point, technology advances.

If more people receive higher education the chance that more people invent things increase.

This opens the possibility of increasing our quality of life with new technical advances.

What are the potential negative consequences of free college education?

On the downside taxpayers will have to pay for students’ education, causing in inflation in taxes.

Hence, this may not be considered fair to bear the burden of paying for students’ education that they may not necessarily benefit from.

Something else to consider is the number of students that have applied in the last century. Years ago, receiving a higher education was only open a small percentage of people, now there is a significant amount of people each year applying for college each year.

What do you prefer, the cancellation of student debts or the opportunity for all to receive a free college education?

The reversal of student debt may be more beneficial to students who have completed their college education and must pay off loans. This is also a way to offset the effect of the covid 19 pandemic which forced people to stay home without work.

The opportunity for all people to receive a free education may be an annoyance to taxpayers, but I think that there should be a higher quality of education available to all people regardless of location, or anything discriminatory. This has the greater potential to benefit marginalized groups of people who have been historically systemically oppressed for decades. As a result of this the wealth gap will even and there will be an upward trajectory in generational wealth.

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NJ Spark is a social justice journalism lab at Rutgers University. We bring students together with media makers and journalists to create media for and with underserved communities.

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